Media Coverage as a Catalyst for Economic Crises? Causes, Content and Consequences of Economic News Coverage

In the past few years, many European countries faced a severe economic crisis. While many aspects of this crisis have received ample academic attention, the role of the media has so far remained understudied. This project investigates (a) how the economic crisis is covered in media across Europe; (b) to what extent various key actors are able to influence this coverage and (c) what the impact of this coverage is on citizens, in terms of economic perceptions as well as voting preferences. It focuses specifically on how relationships are contingent upon the severity of the economic crisis. I hypothesize that the crisis offers opportunities for marginal actors with little resources to influence media coverage and increases media effects on the public.

The project relies on large-scale content analyses of media coverage and communication by political actors (both nationally and internationally), social movements, businesses, experts and regulatory authorities, as well as existing and new survey research.

Three sub-projects are conducted: they include a cross-national, longitudinal study into the interaction between political actors (parliamentary questions and communication by EU actors and IMF), media coverage and consumer confidence; a more detailed analysis of the Dutch context focusing on a wide range of actors trying to influence the news; and finally a three-wave panel study and content analysis to assess media effects on the individual level.